Parks and Green Spaces

Boston is renowned for its wonderful public parks. You will find a park for every taste, from the small and intimate neighborhood park where you can sip a coffee and read a book, to the formal Victorian garden. You can find parks that are absorbed completely into the city landscape, or they can stretch over hundreds of acres of wilderness. Here are some of the favorites.

The Boston Common and Botanical Gardens

Boston Common

Right in the center of the city is the well-known Boston Common, the oldest park in the United States. From the Common you can venture out to almost any neighborhood in the city and it is used by many as a starting point for a city excursion. Just across the street are the beautiful Public Gardens with its exotic display of Victorian gardeners art showing intricate floral patterns of blazing color and planted exotic imported trees. Comfortably seated in the center of the park is a small pond, the home to the famous Swan Boats.

The Esplanade


A short distance away is the Esplanade, a delightful green space meandering along the Charles River. Strollers, runners, and picnickers share this space looking out over the river dotted with sailboats and rowers. But the Esplanade is part of even large park system called the Charles River Renovation that starts at the Boston Harbor and stretches 20 miles up-river. There are numerous recreational possibilities on both sides of the river including biking, running, tennis, swimming, and skating.

The Emerald Necklace

Geese245x160Just a few steps away is the beginning of a magnificent 1,100-acre park system called the Emerald Necklace. Starting at the Boston Common, the system of 9 parks stretches over seven miles, all linked by parkways and waterways. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1837, each park has a unique flavor and they are rightfully termed the "Jewels" in the necklace.  Going from end to end in the chain of parks, you encounter a wonderful unexpected variety of settings from a formal park, to a garden, to a former tidal marsh, a river glen, and several ponds finally ending in the Arboretum and Franklin park, a 527 acre country park and home of the Franklin Zoo.

Boston Harbor Island Recreational Park

Boston-Harbor-IslandBetween the Boston harbor and the open ocean, there are a series of 30 islands that form this national park. Some of these islands are open to the public, and every year thousands of visitors come to picnic, camp and explore. On these islands it is easy the be fooled into thinking that you are on a remote island in Maine, being in fact only miles away from the city. Ferries provide access to many of the islands.